Military corruption is weakening Nigeria’s efforts to battle the
Islamist insurgency of Boko Haram, the watchdog Transparency
International said on Thursday.
Its report underlines the difficulty of achieving two key promises of
President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2015 election campaign: tackling endemic
corruption and defeating an insurgency that has claimed over 20,000
lives and displaced millions.
“Corrupt military officials have been able to benefit from the
conflict through the creation of fake defence contracts, the proceeds
of which are often laundered abroad in the UK, U.S. and elsewhere,”
the watchdog said in a statement.
Last year, Nigeria’s vice president said around $15 billion had been
stolen from the public purse under the previous government through
fraudulent arms procurement deals.
Transparency International said this had left the military “without
vital equipment, insufficiently trained, low in morale and
“This has crippled the Nigerian military in fighting an aggressive
ideologically inspired enemy such as Boko Haram,” the watchdog said,
pointing to cases of soldiers taking on the militants without
ammunition or fuel.
A defence spokesman said the allegations were false for the current
crop of military officers.
“A lot has been done to train, boost troops’ morale and procure vital
equipment through due process,” said Major General John Enenche,
adding that the military “will continue to get better with the right
kind of leadership that we have today”.
The military says it has recaptured much of the territory claimed by
Boko Haram since the conflict began in 2009. But the reclaimed areas
are often razed towns, or islands of relative safety and highways
connecting them to larger cities.
Much of the territory away from the roads is still dangerous, and Boko
Haram attacks remain frequent.
The report also said countries such as the United States could
encourage defence reform by withholding arms, such as the planned sale
of up to a dozen Super Tucano A-29 aircraft to help the fight against
Boko Haram.
Transparency International said Nigeria should make its defence budget
and procurement systems more transparent to ensure that contracts were
not inflated, or given to shell companies to conceal the true
(Reporting by Paul Carsten; and by Camillus Eboh in Abuja; Editing by
Kevin Liffey)